While statistics vary, it’s widely reported that at least 50% of those entering college are undecided about their majors, and 50%–70% of all students change their majors up to 3 times before they graduate. And is it any wonder? For a new college student, choosing one major among hundreds is no small task, and it can often feel like an overwhelmingly important decision.
Waiting to declare your major gives you time to explore your interests. However, many high schools have dual enrollment programs which can allow you to earn college credits early. You can knock out some of your general courses while you are undetermined on your college major. This can ultimately save you time and money.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Major
Remember, entering college as an undecided student isn’t such a bad thing. You can devote your first year on campus to core requirements and take a wide variety of classes that interest you. There are a few factors to consider when entering college without a declared major.
You may be one of the students torn between options as far apart as art history and pre-forensic chemistry. In this case, your first year can be spent exploring these areas of study and working with a career counselor to narrow your focus. In this situation especially, it may be better to consider a smaller university or community college. Not only will this offer cost savings, but the smaller number of enrolled students per advisor means you also get a greater level of individual attention. At this point in your college career, this may be worth the trade-offs of a larger institution. You can always transfer schools at a later date when you have a major in mind.
Do your Research
When you are researching colleges though, be sure the college is accredited. You don’t want to transfer from one college to another only to find out the college courses you already have won’t count toward a degree. Additionally, when looking for careers, be sure to check out a career’s growth rate and salary.
If there is little to no growth rate you may have difficulty finding employment upon graduation. One way to find a career’s growth rate is to view the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook. Simply search for the career you are interested in and you will receive a snap shot of the median yearly salary along with the projected growth rate.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to rush to college right away. In many cultures it’s customary to take a gap year to explore the world or yourself. Work a bunch of random jobs that sound cool to you. Travel. Research your options. You might also feel called to service, either through the Military, Peace Corps, or other volunteer program. There are numerous paths leading from your door and limitless opportunities to take side roads along the way. Choose a place to start, try to remain open to other possibilities, and make sure you enjoy the journey.